08/16/2012 06:33 pm ET Updated Oct 16, 2012

Rotten Meat and the Making of a Brooklyn Star

Ovenly's start wasn't all book clubs and brownies.

Startups are hard. Move fast, make the right decisions and get a break or two, or your business is dead meat. Few, though, have actually had dead meat in their business.

We found one that did in Brooklyn: treats-maker Ovenly, for which the path to a stunning Greenpoint storefront, team of 18 and selection for the Birchbox marketplace was hardly the twee fairytale the press seems to enjoy telling. Sure, co-founders Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin met at a book club, and did leave their careers to make goodies for a living, but that's where the Brooklyn foodie paradise ends.

The meat incident took place in a starter kitchen they were sharing. "The smell was overwhelming -- we assumed it was a dead rat," said co-founder Agatha Kulaga. "But then the exterminator found rotting meat in one of the subletter's unplugged coolers. He said it was the single worst thing he'd seen in 30 years on the job. He actually put a gas mask on to take care of it."

There was the termite swarm. (Said exterminator was apparently on speed dial.) There were three leases that fell through last minute. And there were the days that ran so long they slept in the beat-up company Explorer, right there in the loading dock, until the morning shift.

Hardly an easy start, but the payoff is here. Find their uncomfortably addictive spicy bacon caramel corn and salted chocolate chip cookies at Birchbox, Samplrs or these offline locations.

Now go forth (and dream a little dream).

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